I just read two spot-on articles: David Pogue’s column in The Scientific American about balancing the power of online reviews, and Tom Foremski’s blog on ZDNet, pondering the meaning of “innovation journalism.” No, I’m not connected to either of these gentlemen in any way—though I did once shake hands with Mr. Pogue before we each keynoted at Interop New York a couple years ago. But based on my experience at Interop Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, if we are in an age of “innovation journalism” then I think we need to also be wary of the age of “fabrication oration.”
At Interop Las Vegas this year, there was a strong display of brilliance, vision, and innovation. Usually, it’s a great opportunity to not only get out into the tech community and share the great work we’re doing, but also to be inspired by our colleagues, partners, and competitors. This year, however, was different. Keynotes that were supposed to be visionary and insightful instead came across as negative, misleading, and self-serving. The amount of vitriol was surprising. What’s reassuring here is that from the tweets and analyst reviews I read, it’s not an approach that was well received.
But with the speed of communication and rumor proliferation today, distortions are often what sticks. By the time corrections are published, the story is old news. To be fair to our customers—whether they want to purchase network gear or subscribe to our thoughts—we owe it to them to present truthful information. From fake reviews that operate under cover of online anonymity to corporations fabricating competitive information to suit their strategies, to reporters or bloggers covering companies they invest in, we need to reinforce the notions of integrity and honesty.
Sure, we have our competitive points of reference. But as colleagues, competitors, customers, partners, bloggers, journalists, we need to compete—or report—on facts and results; not smoke and mirrors. Brooke Gladstone, a media expert, author and journalist, said it best during an interview this past weekend on NPR. Though she was talking about the media, it strikes me as just as appropriate for anyone who serves as a mouthpiece. When asked if objective journalism even exists anymore, Gladstone said, unhesitatingly, “no.” But then she said, “Reporters can be fair….There’s no way that we can divorce ourselves from the experience gleaned over a lifetime that forces us to come to certain conclusions.”